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Group Marches To EMU's President's Office To Make Demands

Mar 27, 2018

Halting construction projects on campus, reinstating sports teams, and putting a stop to staff layoffs were among seven demands the "Better University is Possible Coalition" presented to Eastern Michigan University's president today. 
 


A group of about 50 students, faculty, and staff members chanted "Chop from the Top" as they gathered outside of President James Smith's office.  The president greeted the members of the coalition as they asked him questions.

"Would you take a pay cut to save some of these jobs and our students?" shouted someone in the crowd.  

"I certainly would be willing to talk with the regents about that," responded Smith. 

"That's not a yes or no...answer.  Answer the question," shouted another person.  

"I'm not going to answer any questions until I review it," replied Smith.

Student athlete Max Wilkinson is among those who want the administration to find alternatives for budget cuts.  His swim team was eliminated last week.

"It's devastating, I red shirted my freshmen year, so I would have had five years here.  I have four of my five years done, so I have one more year to go.  I feel like I just got pushed to the ground and somebody just kept kicking me," said Wilkinson.

Labor union members who attended the gathering refused to say if they would strike if their demands are not met.  Smith also said that he supports selling the presidential residence to raise funds for Eastern.

Here is the list of all the demands that was released by the coalition: 

·         A halt to new building projects that would increase EMU’s debt load.

·         A moratorium on sale or license of EMU assets, including University parking lots.

·         Cuts to administrative bloat, including 247 administrators who earn $25 million a year in salaries alone.

·         Realignment of EMU athletic teams from the Mid-American Conference to the Horizon League or Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference to allow greater participation for student athletes at a lower cost.

·         Implement a plan to boost student retention, including responses to anti-black racism on campus, and hiring of staff to fill vacant positions that provide critical student services.

·         Make public all internal budget documents used by the EMU Executive Council.

·         Immediately halt the implementation of cuts to staff and the swimming and diving, wrestling, softball, and tennis programs pending a full review and a decision process involving campus stakeholders.

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— Jorge Avellan is a reporter for 89.1 WEMU News. Contact him at 734.487.3363 or email him javellan@emich.edu